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《TAIPEI TIMES》Filipino, US troops fire at ‘invasion’ force in war games

US troops participate in a live fire exercise at Laoag, Philippines, yesterday.
Photo: Reuters

US troops participate in a live fire exercise at Laoag, Philippines, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

2024/05/07 03:00

AFP, LAOAG, Philippines

US and Filipino troops yesterday fired missiles and artillery at an imaginary “invasion” force during war games on the Philippines’ northern coast, days after their governments objected to China’s “dangerous” actions in regional waters.

Thousands of troops are conducting land, sea and air maneuvers against a backdrop of increased confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels around shoals in the South China Sea claimed by Manila, as well as stepped-up Chinese air and naval activity around nearby Taiwan.

US troops massed at a strip of sand dunes on Luzon island’s northwest coast — about 400km south of Taiwan — letting loose more than 50 live 155mm howitzer rounds at floating targets about 5km off the coast, journalists reported.

Filipino troops followed up by firing rockets aimed at wearing down the attackers, before the two forces finished the job with machine guns, Javelin missiles and more artillery rounds.

Lieutenant General Michael Cederholm, commander of the US First Marine Expeditionary Force, said the exercise was “to prepare for the worst” by “securing key maritime terrain.”

“It’s designed to repel an invasion,” Cederholm told reporters at the exercise site.

“Our northwestern side is more exposed,” Major General Marvin Licudine, exercise director for the Philippines, said ahead of the live firing at the La Paz sand dunes near Laoag.

“Because of the regional problems that we have... we have to already practice and orient ourselves in our own land in these parts,” he said.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea despite an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis.

It deploys hundreds of coast guard, navy and other vessels to patrol and militarize the waters.

Asked about yesterday’s drills, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “any military exercise should not be targeted at or harm the interests of third parties.”

“Countries in the region can all see clearly who is currently provoking military confrontation and escalating tensions in the region,” ministry spokesman Lin Jian (林劍) said.

More than 16,700 Filipino and US troops are taking part in the annual military drills dubbed Balikatan, or “shoulder to shoulder” in Filipino.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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